A new after-hours GP-led service will provide the right care, at the right time in the right place for more people in the Albany community.
The service, funded by the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) for a trial period until June 2019, is the creation of several general practices who have worked closely with a range of health sector stakeholders to develop the innovative after-hours treatment model.
The new service has two elements: an after-hours on-call service that will treat vulnerable, at-risk groups in residential aged care, as well as people receiving palliative care in their own home or the hospice setting, and an after-hours GP-led clinic located adjacent to Albany Health Campus’ emergency department.
The hospital-based service will operate during evenings, weekends and public holidays and treat people who need urgent care but whose conditions could be treated by a GP during normal hours. They will either be diverted from the emergency department, or attend the service directly.
It will complement existing GP services available in Albany, as the patient’s regular doctor will be notified so that they can continue to provide ongoing care, as appropriate.
Both aspects of the service will use experienced nurse practitioners and GPs, as required, and are expected to start in April and June respectively.
WAPHA CEO, Ms Learne Durrington, said the new service will provide much needed care in the most appropriate setting for more people whose condition, while not an emergency, was urgent and shouldn’t wait until the next day to be treated.
“The on-call service will ensure people who are frail and unwell are treated in the comfort of their own home, care home or hospice and avoid unnecessary, uncomfortable, distressing and costly trips by ambulance to hospital, demand for which has increased in recent months.
“Additionally, the hospital-based service will free up emergency department staff to deal with more serious cases, which is a great all-round outcome.
“Importantly, the patient’s usual doctor will be fully informed about the treatments that occurred,” Ms Durrington said.
Member for O’Connor, Mr Rick Wilson MP said the new service demonstrated the appetite and ability of local health agencies to come together to find the most effective way to fill gaps in health service provision.
“The funding provided by the Australian Government through the Country WA Primary Health Network goes a long way to solving some of the health challenges facing the Albany community.
“As a father with young children, access to an after-hours GP clinic gives me great comfort and I’m sure that the wider community will see this service as a welcome addition to the local health campus,” Mr Wilson said.
Dr David Mildenhall of Southern Regional Medical Group said, “This has been a truly collaborative effort involving a number of general practices, WAPHA, WA Country Health Service, residential aged care and community care facilities, as well as radiology, pharmacy and pathology providers.
“Everyone has contributed their ideas and expertise to make the service run as smoothly and efficiently possible,” Dr Mildenhall said.
WACHS Regional Director, David Naughton, said, “We are delighted to provide premises within our hospital and consumables for the GP after-hours service, and we will be working closely with them to ensure the new service complements the work of our emergency department.”